With the kids now going back to school, now is the time we should get our children in a good night time routine.

Parents and guardians frequently ask what time their child should be going to bed. This topic is important, because sleep is intrinsically linked to physical and mental health. A good sleep routine will ensure your child is healthy, focused and energised for the next day.

Many aged notions, like sending your child to bed early if they had been misbehaving, can make matters worse. Research shows that sending your child to bed early can make them distracted, hyper, and means it takes them longer to fall asleep. Similarly, going to bed late can have really negative consequences.

So what time should your child go to bed?

Well, that depends on your child’s age, as well as the time you want them to wake up.

In this guide, we’ll give the best bedtimes according to research by age.

The importance of bedtime

Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine explains that we as human beings have a biological clock. Our circadian rhythm is a natural instinct within us to rise and sleep with the sun. When we try to push our bodies out of this rhythm, it can have consequences, including an increased risk of mental health issues and weight gain.

You must be consistent with your child’s bedtime, assisting them in waking up and sleeping at the right times, as this is vital to their health.

What time should my child go to bed by age

Newborn to 3 months

Newborns sleep between sixteen and seventeen hours a day. With no regard for the time of day, they switch between sleeping and waking states, typically feeding between every two to four hours. The regularity of sleeping patterns usually starts to occur around six to eight weeks. At this point, the child will sleep more at nighttime. You can assist this pattern through not exposing your child to sunlight, and keeping the sleeping space dark.

3 to 4 months old

As a child reaches this age, their pattern starts to slightly resemble that of an adult. The human growth hormone is released during times of deep sleep, and the child needs this to grow. They’ll also develop a need for REM (rapid eye movement) for developments in learning and memory.

When the child reaches four months of age, their sleep time decreases from sixteen to seventeen hours a day to between twelve and fifteen. You’ll of course hope that the majority of this sleep will happen at nighttime. Your baby will probably sleep somewhere from four to nine hours at their longest period, including midmorning and afternoon napping. This is where parents should look to reinforce the child’s biological rhythms through anticipation of natural tiredness, by putting them to bed before they are tired. Overtiredness can be problematic for the child’s routine, so it’s good to put them to bed before this happens.

Gently nudge your children towards napping at times that mean they’ll be tired towards an appropriate bedtime, which you should judge based on their sleeping pattern, and what time you want them to wake up in the morning.

5 months to three years old

When the child reaches between five and seven months of age, their hours of sleep is somewhere between twelve and fifteen hours including naps. At this point, you might be wondering why your child needs assistance going back to sleep if they wake up at night. It can happen. We can only fathom your child wants to make it clear they are not asleep, is confused about it, and needs your help.

You should be putting your baby down between six and eight o’clock at this age, to account for the time they might spend awake in the nighttime. If your little one goes to nursery and they are consistently over or undersleeping, slowly adjust bedtime appropriately, until they’re sleeping through to a desirable time.

Three to five years old

Pre-schoolers need ten to thirteen hours of sleep a night. By now, we would hope your little one is sleeping through. If not, try to incorporate a sleep routine. You can find information on how to do that in our other blog.  

If your child has to get up at seven in the morning and sleeps for an average of twelve hours, their bedtime should be seven o’clock. If they sleep for ten hours, it might be more around eight o’clock, and you’ll know you’ll have an additional hour with them in the morning.

Aged six to twelve years

During this age range, your child should be getting nine to twelve hours of sleep every night. This is really important. As kids become more independent, you might find some reluctance to sleep, because they want to stay up and play.

It’s really important that you encourage your child to go to bed earlier if they are showing signs of tiredness during the day. You could do this in a number of ways, but we find the absolute best way is to make sure their bedroom is somewhere they want to be, and that bedtime is fun. Try incorporating a sleep routine, or customise their bedroom, so that it is a place they enjoy spending time. Our customisable beds can help.

Twelve and up

Your child should be sleeping for at least eight hours, but you might not have much control over that. At this age, you can rationalise with your child and explain to them why they need to go to bed early. We suggest you try that, as tired teenagers are no fun!

To conclude

Sleep is very important for children and getting them to bed takes time and patience. Use this article as a guide, but your intuition is equally as important. You’ll know when your child needs to sleep, and if they’re not getting enough rest. Adjust bedtime accordingly, and you can’t go far wrong.

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